Oliver Ryder, Ph.D.

Kleberg Endowed Director of Conservation Genetics

Dr. Oliver Ryder serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as the Kleberg Endowed Director of Conservation Genetics. He oversees research activities in the areas of molecular genetics, genomic studies, and genetic rescue efforts, including stem cell applications – all focused on reducing extinction risk and contributing to species recovery and sustainable populations. He guides the strategic development of efforts to develop and expand a global network of cryobanking facilities, especially for viable tissue culture cells. 

Oliver has contributed to key studies relevant to conservation management efforts for gorillas, California condors, black rhinos, Przewalski’s horses, Anegada iguanas, bighorn sheep, and other species. He participates in developing studies that link conservation efforts for small managed populations of wildlife under human care with larger landscape scale efforts for wildlife populations in native habitat. He is co-organizer of the Genome 10K project and is a member of the Steering Committee for the Vertebrate Genome Project that aims to sequence the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species to reveal the amazing genetic diversity of this group of animals and apply this knowledge to the stewardship of wildlife on our planet.

Oliver earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of California, Riverside, and his doctorate in Biology from the University of California, San Diego, where he now serves as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Evolution, Behavior and Ecology. He also holds an adjunct professorship at San Diego State University. Oliver is an AAAS fellow, recognized for contributions to understanding and conserving genetic diversity. His scientific achievements in animal health have been recognized by the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. Oliver has been an early and consistent contributor to the development of conservation genetics and genomics and emerging efforts in genetic rescue using advanced genetic and reproductive technologies. His extensive bibliography includes several citation classics. He relishes opportunities to visit natural landscapes, enjoys their beauty and solitude, and advocates for their preservation for future generations.